The Universe in a NutshellHardback
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- Publisher: BANTAM PRESS
- Format: Hardback | 224 pages
- Dimensions: 192mm x 252mm x 26mm | 960g
- Publication date: 5 November 2001
- Publication City/Country: London
- ISBN 10: 0593048156
- ISBN 13: 9780593048153
- Illustrations note: colour illustrations, colour photographs
- Sales rank: 23,351
Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time was a publishing phenomenon. Translated into thirty languages, it has sold over nine million copies worldwide. It continues to captivate and inspire new readers every year. When it was first published in 1988 the ideas discussed in it were at the cutting edge of what was then known about the universe. In the intervening years there have been extraordinary advances in our understanding of the space and time. The technology for observing the micro- and macro-cosmic world has developed in leaps and bounds. During the same period cosmology and the theoretical sciences have entered a new golden age. Professor Stephen Hawking has been at the heart of this new scientific renaissance. Now, in The Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking brings us fully up-to-date with the advances in scientific thinking. We are now nearer than we have ever been to a full understanding of the universe. In a fascinating and accessible discussion that ranges from quantum mechanics, to time travel, black holes to uncertainty theory, to the search for science's Holy Grail - the unified field theory (or in layman's terms the 'theory of absolutely everything') Professor Hawking once more takes us to the cutting edge of modern thinking. Beautifully illustrated throughout, with original artwork commissioned for this project, The Universe in a Nutshell is guaranteed to be the biggest science book of 2001.
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In 1963, Stephen Hawking contracted motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. Yet he went on to Cambridge to become a brilliant researcher and Professorial Fellow at Gonville and Caius College. For thirty years he held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge, the chair held by Isaac Newton in 1663. Professor Hawking has over a dozen honorary degrees, was awarded the CBE in 1982. He is a fellow of the Royal Society and a Member of the US National Academy of Science.
By Rui Antunes 06 Apr 2011
I always liked physics in high-school. I decided to take a computer engineering degree, which has a lot of math and physics in the first years, but only computer classes in the final years - so I forgot a little bit about my passion for physics after college. However, someone offered me this book one or two years after college, and this book ignited again my passion for physics.
This is not a very in-depth book, but it does cover all the main physics theories and models (so, the title "The Universe in a Nutshell" is well-deserved), in quite an amusing way. If you've been away from physics from quite sometime, this is a very good place to start again: Electromagnetism, Special and General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory, it's all there.
A Brief History of Time has now sold an estimated nine million copies worldwide - something of a hard act for its author to follow. In what is being promoted as the 'sequel' to that book, Professor Hawking gives an account of his attempt to combine Einstein's Theory of Relativity with Richard Feynman's idea of multiple histories, in order to reach the grail of a Theory of Everything - or big TOE, as it's charmingly named. This is a book about superstrings and p-branes, holography and supergravity, about how the 'cosmic seed' from which our universe derived was as small as a nut. The publishers are not yet releasing much text, but enough to see that it will be a fascinating (if challenging) read. And one enhanced throughout with 200 striking full colour illustrations and jazzed-up diagrams.
It is 13 years since A Brief History of Time became an unexpected bestseller. It sold millions and was translated into 40 languages, while being described as a book people bought but did not read. This new book is only partly an update; each chapter stands alone to a great extent while reporting on some of the most active fields of research. Its stated aim is to present a snapshot of the picture of reality as we currently understand it; a picture that changes as new scientific method allows further investigation. Is this book more accessible than its predecessor? The answer is yes and no. Make no mistake, dealing with relativity and the shape of time, black holes, supersymmetry, string theory and a universe with 11 dimensions - it is certainly challenging. It demands you read it slowly and avoid distractions. And, yes, there is good and powerful explanation here. It is beautifully produced and illustrated (the illustrations fill it out - the text alone would run to barely 100 pages). There are digressions to give more detail about matters peripheral to the main text, for example about people like John Wheeler who coined the name 'black hole'. The text consists of good basic description of core concepts such as the expansion of the universe, and tantalising material on even more complex issues, the brevity of which will leave the enthusiast frustrated and wanting more, others bewildered. The book seems like the result of a publisher's meeting determined to make it more truly accessible and throwing in every device possible to make it so except lengthier explanation. There are more quips than before, again apparently included to lighten the load ('This microwave radiation is not much good for defrosting frozen pizza, but...'). Nevertheless, the book is worthwhile. Enthusiasts for the subject will want to know what this icon of science has to say. Others will find its descriptions mindboggling, which is as it should be, but also a beautiful and fascinating introduction to how the world works. If so then they will find that one effect of A Brief History of Time's success was to encourage a proliferation of good science books. There are longer, more detailed and ultimately more satisfying books about the universe for those keen to explore further. None may guarantee you understand completely - part of the fascination here is that no-one understands all this - but they will take you further and stagger your imagination as they do so. (Kirkus UK)